Risk is real. Dangerous situations exist or can arise. But while that is objectively true, the amount of risk is measured by individuals. Constant risk assessment is one of the mechanisms that an individual uses to survive.
In Australia we accept that there are venomous snakes in our surrounds. Most people go about their daily lives without giving them much thought. We live by a self-selected and self-established pattern of behaviour that best protects us from being bitten. We scan the ground in front of us, and to the side, when bushwalking. We check out the garden before kneeling down to plant, or pull out weeds. It is done with little to no thought. If we are told that there are more snakes around this year, then we assess the risk higher and take extra precautions. We don’t ban bushwalking or gardening.
If the same number of venomous snakes were deposited in a UK village, the average Brit would assess the risk as being intolerably high. And that would be correct, until such times as they had re-jigged their survival mechanisms. That is how it should be; the amount of risk in a situation rests entirely on individual evaluation and is subject to constant change in line with circumstances. The amount of survival rests on how intelligently and efficaciously they respond. When it concerns their own survival, people are pretty smart.
Expert risk assessment is a pretentious waste of time. People do not require an expert to tell them that a situation is risky, or what the level of risk is, or how they should react to it. With sufficient (and true) information, each person is able to assess the risk for themselves far better than any committee of experts, and to act in accordance with that assessment.
Which brings me to the arrogant response of Western governments to WuFlu. To shutdown businesses and lockdown people went far, far beyond their job description.
The world is a dangerous place. Many people die each year because of that. Should governments insist that we lock all cars in garages because there are fatal car crashes? Of course not.
We see them as our government; they see us as their people. One of those points of view is wrong.
The events of the past few weeks have shown, clearly, that the greatest risk we face as a society stems from our own governments and their self-perceived role as our guardians. They assessed the risk and deemed that they should destroy the economy in order to save us from WuFlu. How many will die because of the shutdown/lockdown is unquantifiable, but we can be certain that it will be more than would have died from the flu.
It is Nanny State that needs to be in lockdown – permanently.